Campus Watch May 4, 2023

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on college campuses.
May 4, 2023

Jewish Student’s Mezuzah Vandalized at Simmons University Dorm

An Orthodox Jewish student’s mezuzah was torn down from her dorm room door at Simmons University on March 27.

The Simmons Voice reported on April 24 that the student, Luciana Libis, reported the incident to the university and they are investigating the matter. “I was distraught,” Libis told the Voice. “What it meant to me, as an openly Jewish woman, is that a 5-inch by 1-inch by 1-inch box is too much space for me to take up at Simmons University.”

Chelsea Kranc, vice president of Simmons Hillel, told the Voice that the university “is doing the best they can at the moment.” “It’s always difficult when something like this happens on campus because we have to follow protocol…it takes more than a day to make change happen,” she said.

MI High School Superintendent Retires Following Anti-Israel Speaker at Diversity Assembly

The superintendent of Bloomfield Hills High School is retiring following backlash over the school hosting an anti-Israel speaker at a diversity assembly in March.

WDIV-TV reported that Superintendent Patrick Watson announced his retirement on April 18, citing “personal reasons” and family time. His last day will be July 31. “I firmly believe that our district is well positioned for future success,” he said. “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to serve the students, staff, and community of Bloomfield Hills Schools as your superintendent.” The assembly was not mentioned.

The anti-Israel speaker, Huwaida Arraf, reportedly called Israel an apartheid state that oppresses the Palestinians and kept referring to Israel as “Palestine.” After the assembly, both Watson and Principal Lawrence Stroughter issued letters apologizing to the community; Stroughter claimed that Arraf veered from her planned remarks that she and the school had agreed she would stick to. Stroughter has since been placed on leave.

Santa Ana Unified School District Approves Anti-Israel Ethnic Studies Courses

Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) voted to approve two anti-Israel ethnic studies courses on April 25, according to StandWithUs.

One course, titled “Ethnic Studies: World Geography,” passed by a margin of three votes in favor and one abstention; the other, “History 10 Ethnic Studies World Histories Course,” passed unanimously. StandWithUs alleged that the former course “promotes bias and bigotry against Israel and the Jewish people” and the latter “includes at least one book that promotes similar bias.” The pro-Israel education organization noted that the geography course describes Israel as a “colonial empire” and provides supplemental material accusing Israel of “ethnically cleansing” the Palestinians. The book referenced by StandWithUs similarly accuses Israel of “ethnically cleansing” Palestinians and Arabs that is “backed up by American imperialism,” per The Daily Caller.

“The ethnic studies courses approved by SAUSD’s board falsely portray Jews as colonizers in Israel, erasing 3,000 years of their history and connection to their ancestral home,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement. “They cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a deeply one-sided and inaccurate way, and completely ignore Jewish refugees who fled or were expelled from Arab states and Iran. This violates the spirit, if not the letter, of California law regarding K-12 ethnic studies, as well as SAUSD policy about how to teach controversial issues.”

Students at CO Middle School Draw Swastikas on Themselves

An unspecified number of students at a Colorado middle school reportedly drew swastikas on themselves following a Holocaust presentation on April 28.

Lissa Staal, the principal of Campus Middle School in Greenwood Village, sent a letter to parents that what the students did “creates an unacceptable environment of intolerance and exclusion in our school community,” FOX31 reported. “When these events are reported to the administration, we address them immediately and those involved face disciplinary consequences,” Staal wrote. “We are also connecting with the Anti-Defamation League to discuss additional measures that we can take to interrupt these incidents of racism in our school.” She added that the school “will continue to work to educate our students around the impact of this behavior through our already planned No Place for Hate Awareness Week. We are providing Advisory lessons around the negative impact and trauma that hate speech, antisemitism, anti-ableism and the use of racial slurs have on the overall culture of our school environment.”

A spokesperson for the school district told the Journal, “We take matters like this very seriously and do not tolerate antisemitic or any hate-motivated actions or words. Campus Middle School Principal also met with ADL yesterday.”

Yeshiva University, UAE School to Hold Joint Jewish Studies Conference

Yeshiva University and the Mohammed Bin Zayed University for Humanities in Abu Dhabi will be co-hosting their first ever Jewish Studies conference.

Israel Hayom reported that the two universities will host a program called “Interacting Philosophies, Shared Friendships” in Abu Dhabi that will explore the similarities between Judaism and Islam, especially the influence of philosopher Moses Maimonides as well as foster dialogue between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East. A kosher dinner will be provided.

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